Umiak - Dory - Lugger

This page is a more detailed account of a 22 foot new-style umiak that is currently under construction (Sept. 18, 1996) in my shop and mentioned elsewhere, on these pages

The similarities between umiaks and dories is not accidental. They are two different cultures answer to the same question: how do I built a cheap, good workboat using local materials?

I took that similarity as my starting point when I built a flat-bottomed type of umiak with a student a few years ago. It made me want to see how the round-bottomed Swampscott dory type might do if it were crossed with umiak construction. A 12' 8" protoype based on a swampscott followed, and was a very sucessful boat. (Three person Umiak jpg.)

Now what I wanted was a high capacity boat, one that could go anywhere a kayak could, but with added range, speed , power, and comfort. I wanted a boat that was equally at home gunkholing, or making a long crossing, one that could move under oar, paddle, sail or power.

Sometime last winter I started sketching a 22 foot long umiak, that combined elements of Boston Power Dories and the sailing and rowing luggers of the English channel. I have been carting a 1940's vintage Palmer 6 H.P. One-lunger around for the past 15 years, and it seemed to be the natural power plant for my new vessel. A 150-200 square foot dipping lugsail seemed to be the way to supply both movement and romance, and so the heresey was complete - a beach crusing Umiak Motor sailer!

Dories, even the round sided ones, have flat bottoms. Adding this feature to a bent rib umiak might seem like a needless complication, but it served several purposes. The flat bottom is an excellent shape for beaching, and general utility. The chine-floor structure gives the builder another means of controlling hull shape -specififcally the curve of the midships section - and becomes a perfect base for engine beds and a mast step.

And finally, as a feature of the old pre-contact style boats, the chine and floors are a nice reminder of what came before.

This boat raises some interesting questions such as: